There are people who don’t like RottenTomatoes.com, the online movie review site, largely because they don’t like the reviews. Rotten Tomatoes tried to fix that by offering two review ratings, one by the professional reviewers and, more recently, one by the average audience. That made it easier to avoid being tricked into watching black and white art films about a French girls who drop scarves in the rain and then contract consumption, just because they got 99% by film critics who found the lighting “pregnant with the dark opulence of meaning.”
(Spoiler alert: The French chick dies, but it takes three actual film hours to do it, two of which are shots of a wall clock ticking but the clock hands are made of Vienna sausage.)
Giving audience opinions some weight also enabled movies with subplots built completely around farting dogs to score much, much higher reviews.
When Mike and I read Rotten Tomatoes reviews to each other, we say things like: “59% by the assholes, 75% by the peoples.” I don’t think all movie reviewers are assholes, it’s just a shorthand we use to differentiate the people who study the art of film making (and possibly take themselves a little too seriously) and the people who think every movie should have a minimum of 70% “shit blowing up.”
It can still be confusing. Take The Expendables 2. The audience reviewers gave it 72%, which makes sense; it has famous actors and lots of exploding things. But the critics gave it 66%?? Between the grunts/accents of Stallone, Lundgren, Jet Li, and Arnold Schwartzenegger I had to watch it with subtitles, which went something like this:
Jet Li: *unintelligible*
Schwartzenegger: *achingly bad acting*
Arnold’s acting was SO bad I couldn’t help but wonder how Maria didn’t know he was diddling the maid 5 seconds after he planted his monster seed. He isn’t believable reporting the sun will rise tomorrow.
Stallone: *Grunt with an Italian accent* (here the movie pauses to allow viewers to peacefully marvel that this guy wrote and was nominated for an Oscar for Rocky.)
Bruce Willis: *What the hell happened to my career? Eh, at least I didn’t get dumped by Ashton Kutcher.*
Jason Statham: *radiating tremendous hotness for a short bald guy*
But after all that, I’m not going to get into the pros/cons/usefulness of Rotten Tomatoes‘ reviews. After a while you learn, based on your tastes. how much to rely on the professional reviewers vs. the peoples.
But Rotten Tomatoes’ Search Sucks
What I DO want to get into is how badly Rotten Tomatoes’ search SUCKS.
Misspell a word? Forget it. No results.
Try and look up a relatively obscure movie with a one-word, common-word title? Forget it, you’ll get every popular title with that word in it before you get the movie actually called THAT. Try typing “Jack” in Rotten Tomatoes’ search. “Jack” with Robin Williams comes up on the second page, twelfth, after “Jackass” and “Full Metal Jacket.”
Maybe Rotten Tomatoes just feels they’ve so cornered the movie review market, they just don’t care anymore. Their reviews even show up on DirectTV listings now.
How to Fix Rotten Tomatoes’ Search, a Plea.
Dear Rotten Tomatoes,
Go back to basic search engine algorithm class and try and make your site a little more user-friendly than a Commodore 64. If you do, maybe I won’t even vent on those annoying full page pop-up ads.
I can type “sushi” into Google and it will return pizza listings because it knows in my heart of hearts I really wanted pizza. If I don’t know how to spell something, I can just type the alphabet into Google and it will spit out the word I meant. When I’m drunk I can type “where is my pocketbook?” and Google will tell me it is in the refrigerator.
Make a partnership with IMDB or Wikipedia or something, because there is where I end up after I type ”Audrey Hepburn young Peter O’Toole checkered floor thieves hide in closet” into Google. I should be able to type that into YOUR search engine and get How to Steal a Million (1966) because that is how people remember movies. By how hot young Peter O’Toole was. Not by the rating a bunch of reviewers gave it or something as silly as the actual title.